What are rakugo, kodan, and rokyoku?
Rakugo, an art form originating in the Edo period, is performed by a rakugoka (sometimes called hanashika) who sits on a cushion (zabuton) in the middle of the stagｅ and tells entertaining stories.
While remaining seated, the rakugoka uses voice and gestures to play men, women, children, the elderly, warriors and commoners.
The only props are a fan and a haandkerchief.
A characteristic of rakugo is the punch line, called the ochi.
The ochi can consist of a play on words, a surprising ending, or even a simple gesture.
Kodan, like rakugo, is spoken by a single artist on the stage.
The performer sits behind a small table and then hits the table with a fan (sensu) for emphasis。
Unlike the humorous rakugo, kdan focuses on historical wars, revenge, human compassion and so forth.
Those who perform kodan are called koshakushi.
Rokyoku is the same as kodan in that a story is told, but the story is accompanied by the three-stringed shamisen and relayed in a singsong voice.
It is said that koshaku got its start in the Edo period when wandering Buddhist priests would walk about and dance while using rapid talking to relay the teachings of Buddhism.
Like rakugo and kodan, rokyoku is performed by a single performer on the stage, but the performance alsｏ includes a shamisen player.